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Member Since 02 Apr 2010
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Topics I've Started

Poor Basic Skill Sets, And Their Consequences

23 January 2017 - 07:49 PM

I have been helping with the adult Ceramics class at the High School that I taught at years ago. The class is made up of teachers in the district, mostly in other majors, with some art teachers included.

While working during the class, I noticed that one of the experienced throwers was having problems with the forms being quite often off center. I really couldn't put my finger on what was the problem as he was a left handed thrower that throws left handed. His smaller forms seemed to be pretty well on center, but when he was working larger they were off center. I had not really paid a whole lot of attention to it as, he was experienced, and I really didn't know how to approach it, but helped when I could even helping him with rim problems or form development. This last Saturday, I was throwing some pieces next to him and happened to see him centering for the first time. . . . it suddenly dawned on me. . . . he was centering on the left side of the wheel with the clay going clockwise! I asked him, where he learned to do that, and he told me he had seen others centering and that was what he learned to do. When I explained to him that he had to work with the clay going into the base of his palm braced by the arm braced in to the body at the hip, he started to realize that his centering was on the wrong side. We did moved him to the right side of the wheel, and he centered the next few pieces of clay effortlessly, and was able to throw much more on center.


Point being here, a simple foundation step erroneously learned prevented him from moving beyond smaller amounts of clay when throwing. I always stressed the basics in class, and would always tell students to learn to walk before they could run. At the same time, I tried to get beginners whether left or right handed to learn as a right hander. This may have been poor on my part, but in my classes it was easier. However, if someone could not learn how to throw on the right, I could reasonably demonstrate and help them on the left.


Have you ever seen someone struggle because of poor or erroneous understanding and control of the basics?







Studio Tips, Devices, And Throwing Aids

16 November 2016 - 04:27 PM

About to open up another can of worms here, as I a sure the GG people pro and con will pop in. Many of us have used different devices to help us with trimming, throwing and other things in the studio. Heck I remember a thread not too long ago with a home made vertical slab roller. Right now there is a great thread going on about using laser pointers as a throwing aid for repetitive sizing of pieces. With the cost of laser pointers so low-makes sense. 


So I will start this off with a simple contribution, a trimming chuck made of common plumbing parts that can be used for a very specific type of trimming I have always had problems with-chalice stems. This is made up of 3" pieces, Pipe flange, pipe, pipe hub donut, and tank to bowl gasket. The gasket is very soft, but firm. This allows the stems to be inserted into the assembly and trimmed without marking or damage. You may not throw chalice stems, but if you throw bottles, you might want to give it a try.  If you want more information, try my blog. 




So what do others of you have to offer in the way of studio tip, throwing aid or other tool for the studio?



Qotw: What Form Do You Least Enjoy Creating, Whether Thrown Or Handbuilt, And Why?

22 September 2016 - 08:02 AM

So a few weeks ago we did the form you most enjoy creating. Now clue us in on the form you really don't like doing, or struggle with more than any other.


For me it is pitchers. I really have never found a pitcher shape that I like to throw. I have done pitchers with round bottom portions with a neck out of that rising to a spout. I have done the narrower base rising to a wider high belly then short neck and spout. I have also done some pitchers that used a little reconstruction using an embroidery hoop, and reversing parts 180 degrees. However, I have never discovered a pitcher that I was completely satisfied with. 


How about you, is there a form you can't throw, or make, or one you struggle with design wise, or one you just don't like?





Qotw:how Do They Put Up With You?

14 September 2016 - 09:29 PM

Ok, so I was just reading an old Qotw about "Are we Crazy". I was mentioning it to my wife, and it occurred to me, How has she put up with me over the years.. . . . let me explain. So we know we are Passionately Crazy about clay, but what does that mean.

  • I believed in Rt/Lft Brain theory, it explains much of me. I will go into the shop at evening, and start working, and not realize how late things are until early mid or late morning. Working through the night. Even did that a few times while teaching, not getting in til 2 or 3 a.m. and then getting up for work at 6:30.
  • Firing a kiln up and down without a programmer or a setter means strange bed time antics, alarms going off every few hours, staying out of be til way late, and doing other weird things at night and then sleeping in.
  • Tracking clay into the house on the bottoms of my feet after she has just mopped!
  • Dusty or muddy hands and clothes leaving finger prints all over.
  • Glazing on the deck with materials and pots everywhere when some would like to enjoy a nice day also. ... in quiet, without mess, or splatter!
  • Laundry that wears out the washing machine a few years early.
  • Rejected pots laying around everywhere, for her use, always gets the seconds.
  • Overly persnickity and picky potter that always sees something wrong with a pot she wants to buy, even as I say, I can throw you one. . . Why not?
  • I can go on and on, but I am sure you all get the picture.

So when I ask her how she puts up with me, she just smiles and very quietly says: because I love you. Go figure!


How do those around you put up with it, deal with it, adapt to it or just overlook it?




as always,




Qotw: What Form Do You Most Enjoy Creating, Whether Thrown Or Handbuilt, And Why?

07 September 2016 - 09:18 PM

I think I have often talked about forms, and my love of throwing/making teapots. Of all of the forms I have made, these are some of the most pleasing to me when finished.


Lately though I have been really enamored with batter bowls. My latest ones really please me visually, and function very well. The most pleasing aspect of the bowl is the way the flared rim gets folded down opposite the spout to create a place for the strap handle. Looking down the form is heart shaped. Does this new form take the place of the #1 teapot? No, but it is very intriguing of late.


So what is the form that you most enjoy making?